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How to Play Drop 2 Chords for Jazz Guitar

Along with their closely related cousins the Drop 3 Chords, Drop 2 Chord Inversions are some of the most popular and commonly used voicings in jazz guitar.

They are easy to play, don’t require a lot of stretches, and because of their “jazzy” sound, they’ve become favorite comping and chord soloing tools for players such as Joe Pass, Ed Bickert, Wes Montgomery and George Benson.

 

 

In this lesson, you will learn how build, play and apply Drop 2 chords to common jazz harmonic situations as you bring these classic chords off the page and onto your fretboard.

 

Free Jazz Guitar eBook: Download a free Jazz guitar PDF that’ll teach you how to play Jazz chord progressions, solo over Jazz chords, and walk basslines.

 

 

 

What Are Drop 2 Chords

 

One of the biggest questions I get from students and readers about jazz guitar chords, is “How do you build a Drop 2 chord?”

The name Drop 2 comes from the fact that in order to build these chord shapes, you take a closed position chord, 1-3-5-7, and “drop” the 2nd note from the top down an octave, forming the interval pattern 5-1-3-7.

Here is how that looks like on the fretboard to help with visualizing this chord construction.

 

 

drop 2 chords 1

 

When you lower the 2nd note of any closed-position chord by an octave, you will then produce the following four interval patterns for each inversion.

 

  • Root Position – R-5-7-3
  • 1st Inversion – 3-7-R-5
  • 2nd Inversion – 5-R-3-7
  • 3rd Inversion – 7-3-5-R

 

Notice that the 3rd and 7th, as well as the root and 5th, are always next to each other in any inversion.

This can help you in visualizing the intervals within any Drop 2 chord shape you are learning or playing on the fretboard.

Lastly, this formula works for any chord type you can think of, you just have to alter the interval qualities to fit that chord type.

For example, a root position Drop 2 7th chord is built R-5-b7-3, a m7 chord would be R-5-b7-b3, etc.

The intervals change to match the chord you are playing, but the order of the intervals always remains the same.

To help you take these shapes from the page and onto the fretboard, let’s take a look at 12 different, 4 per string set, drop 2 chords for all of the common chord qualities used in jazz.

Each of these groups of Drop 2 chords is written with a C root, so make sure to move them to other keys around the fretboard as you explore these shapes further in your jazz guitar practice routine.

 

 

Drop 2 Maj7 Chords

 

To begin, here are 12 different Cmaj7 Drop 2 chords, which have the interval structure:

 

  • Root Position – R-5-7-3
  • 1st Inversion – 3-7-R-5
  • 2nd Inversion – 5-R-3-7
  • 3rd Inversion – 7-3-5-R

 

Here are four inversions of Cmaj7 on the lowest four strings of the guitar.

 

 

drop 2 chords maj7 1

 

You can now learn these chords on the middle four strings.

 

 

drop 2 chords maj7 2

 

Finally, you can play these chords on the top 4 strings of the fretboard.

 

 

drop 2 chords maj7 3

 

 

Drop 2 7th Chords

 

Here are 12 different C7 Drop 2 chords, which have the interval structure:

 

  • Root Position – R-5-b7-3
  • 1st Inversion – 3-b7-R-5
  • 2nd Inversion – 5-R-3-b7
  • 3rd Inversion – b7-3-5-R

 

Here are four inversions of C7 on the lowest four strings of the guitar.

 

 

drop 2 chords 7 1

 

You can now learn these chords on the middle four strings.

 

 

drop 2 chords 7 2

 

Finally, you can play these chords on the top 4 strings of the fretboard.

 

drop 2 chords 7 3

 

 

Drop 2 m7 Chords

 

Here are 12 different Cm7 Drop 2 chords, which have the interval structure:

 

  • Root Position – R-5-b7-b3
  • 1st Inversion – b3-b7-R-5
  • 2nd Inversion – 5-R-b3-b7
  • 3rd Inversion – b7-b3-5-R

 

Here are four inversions of Cm7 on the lowest four strings of the guitar.

 

 

drop 2 chords m7 1

 

You can now learn these chords on the middle four strings.

 

 

drop 2 chords m7 2

 

Finally, you can play these chords on the top 4 strings of the fretboard.

 

 

drop 2 chords m7 3

 

 

Drop 2 m7b5 Chords

 

Here are 12 different Cm7b5 Drop 2 chords, which have the interval structure:

 

  • Root Position – R-b5-b7-b3
  • 1st Inversion – b3-b7-R-b5
  • 2nd Inversion – b5-R-b3-b7
  • 3rd Inversion – b7-b3-b5-R

 

Here are four inversions of Cm7b5 on the lowest four strings of the guitar.

 

 

drop 2 chords m7b5 1

 

 

You can now learn these chords on the middle four strings.

 

 

drop 2 chords m7b5 2

 

Finally, you can play these chords on the top 4 strings of the fretboard.

 

drop 2 chords m7b5 3

 

 

Drop 2 dim7 Chords

 

Here are 12 different Cdim7 Drop 2 chords, which have the interval structure:

 

  • Root Position – R-b5-bb7-b3
  • 1st Inversion – b3-bb7-R-b5
  • 2nd Inversion – b5-R-b3-bb7
  • 3rd Inversion – bb7-b3-b5-R

 

Here are four inversions of Cdim7 on the lowest four strings of the guitar.

 

 

drop 2 chords dim7 1

 

You can now learn these chords on the middle four strings.

 

drop 2 chords dim7 2

 

Finally, you can play these chords on the top 4 strings of the fretboard.

 

 

drop 2 chords dim7 3

 

 

Drop 2 mMaj7 Chords

 

Here are 12 different CmMaj7 Drop 2 chords, which have the interval structure:

 

  • Root Position – R-5-7-b3
  • 1st Inversion – b3-7-R-5
  • 2nd Inversion – 5-R-b3-7
  • 3rd Inversion – 7-b3-5-R

 

Here are four inversions of CmMaj7 on the lowest four strings of the guitar.

 

drop 2 chords mMaj7 1

You can now learn these chords on the middle four strings.

 

 

drop 2 chords mMaj7 2

 

Finally, you can play these chords on the top 4 strings of the fretboard.

 

drop 2 chords mMaj7 3

 

 

Drop 2 7#11 Chords

 

Here are 12 different C7#11 Drop 2 chords, which have the interval structure:

 

  • Root Position – R-#11-b7-3
  • 1st Inversion – 3-b7-R-#11
  • 2nd Inversion – #11-R-3-b7
  • 3rd Inversion – b7-3-#11-R

 

Here are four inversions of C7#11 on the lowest four strings of the guitar.

 

drop 2 chords 7#11 1

 

You can now learn these chords on the middle four strings.

 

drop 2 chords 7#11 2

 

Finally, you can play these chords on the top 4 strings of the fretboard.

 

drop 2 chords 7#11 3

 

 

Drop 2 Maj7#11 Chords

 

Here are 12 different Cmaj7#11 Drop 2 chords, which have the interval structure:

 

  • Root Position – R-#11-7-3
  • 1st Inversion – 3-7-R-#11
  • 2nd Inversion – #11-R-3-7
  • 3rd Inversion – 7-3-#11-R

 

Here are four inversions of Cmaj7#11 on the lowest four strings of the guitar.

 

drop 2 chords maj7#11 1

 

You can now learn these chords on the middle four strings.

 

drop 2 chords maj7#11 2

Finally, you can play these chords on the top 4 strings of the fretboard.

 

drop 2 chords maj7#11 3

 

 

Drop 2 Chord Exercise 1 – Qualities

 

The first exercise you can use to internalize Drop 2 chords is based on finding chords that are only one note different from other shapes, and then moving between these chords on the fretboard.

Here is a favorite example of this exercise that covers 5 different chord types in one exercise.

Try playing these chords using Drop 2 shapes in C, before moving them to other keys on the fretboard.

As well, you can use any string set, and any inversion, to outline these shapes, just stick to the same one for each time through the exercise.

So, if you play the first Cmaj7 chord as a 1st inversion on the middle four strings, keep that same outline as you then move to the other chords in the exercise, meaning you play every chord as a 1st inversion on the middle four strings.

 

drop 2 chords exercise 1

 

Here is another progression that I like to use where the second chord is built by altering one note from the first chord shape.

 

 

drop 2 chords exercise 1.2

 

Lastly, here is another chord progression you can use to learn and memorize various types of Drop 2 chords in the practice room.

 

 

drop 2 chords exercise 1.3

 

 

Once you have worked through these three progressions in various keys and in all inversions on different string sets, try coming up with your own progressions to work Drop 2 chords in the woodshed.

 

 

Drop 2 Chord Exercise 2 – Major ii V I VI Chords

 

This exercise brings a practical application of Drop 2 chords to your practice routine, as you outline major key ii V I VI changes using Drop 2 voice leading.

When doing so, you being on any iim7 Drop 2 chord, such as the root position in the example below, and then move to the closest V7 chord, Imaj7 and VI7b9 chord in that area of the fretboard.

Here is how that looks on the neck of the guitar.

 

drop 2 chords exercise 2

 

When doing so, you will always use the following inversions for each chord.

 

  • R-2nd-R-1st
  • 1st-3rd-1st-2nd
  • 2nd-R-2nd-3rd
  • 3rd-1st-3rd-R

 

This order of inversions is the same for major and minor ii V I vi progressions, and so it’s worth memorizing as you take this exercise further in the woodshed.

Once you have worked out the example above, try moving to the other inversions of Dm7 on the top-4 strings and voice leading the chords from there through the progression.

Then, move on to different keys on that string set, and onto other string sets before applying these shapes to a full tune in your studies.

 

 

Drop 2 Chord Exercise 3 – Minor ii V I VI Chords

 

You can then repeat the previous exercise with minor key ii V I vi chords, as you can see in the following example.

 

 

drop 2 chords exercise 3

 

 

Again, once you have these shapes down in various keys and on a few string sets, try taking them to a tune such as Autumn Leaves, which has both major and minor ii V I changes in order to hear and see how these chords apply to a musical situation.

 

Do you have a question or comment about Drop 2 chords? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.



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